Northeast assistants reassigned Sweeping changes ordered in system

August 05, 1993|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff Writer

Two Northeast High School administrators were reassigned yesterday amid sweeping personnel changes ordered by the acting superintendent of Anne Arundel County schools in the wake of the Ronald W. Price affair.

Dr. Carol Parham, named acting superintendent Saturday after Superintendent C. Berry Carter II was placed on paid leave, said the changes are necessary to begin correcting "deficiencies" in the system.

Her actions come less than a week after state investigators detailed numerous lapses in the way the school system handled the case of Mr. Price -- the Northeast High teacher repeatedly accused of having sexual relationships with students over at least seven years but against whom no action was taken.

Among the changes announced at yesterday's school board meeting:

* Two Northeast High assistant principals were reassigned -- William Myers will become assistant principal at Meade Senior High School, and Michael Mitch will become assistant principal at Corkran Middle School.

* Craig Reynolds, assistant principal at Meade Senior High, will move to Mr. Myers' post at Northeast, and Judith Plattner, assistant principal at Corkran Middle School, will replace Mr. Mitch at Northeast.

* Shirley Hicks, director of high schools, will be reassigned temporarily to Northeast High, where she will work with Principal Joseph Carducci "on a day-to-day" basis, Dr. Parham said.

* Ken Nichols, administrative assistant to the assistant superintendent for instruction, will take over Mrs. Hicks' duties temporarily.

* The office of finance will be incorporated into the department of administration, run by William Scott. Jack White, the budget officer, was named acting director of finance. Dr. Parham also ordered that work begin on the school budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 1994.

* Ken Lawson, assistant superintendent for student support services, will assume a new title of acting associate superintendent and oversee the combination of two central administration departments, the Department of Instruction and the Department of Student Support Services.

* Ronald L. Beckett, assistant superintendent for support services, was given responsibility for ensuring the school system complies with mandates from state school Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick in the wake of her investigation of the Price case.

"I'm hoping that the parents at Northeast feel we are committed to correcting the deficiencies in the system," Dr. Parham said yesterday.

She said reassigning Mrs. Hicks to Northeast did not reflect a lack of confidence in Dr. Carducci but was an effort to "provide an additional support system" and expertise.

Demands for Carter's removal

But the leaders of two community groups said earlier in the board meeting that their members felt the entire Northeast administration should be changed.

Carolyn Roeding, president of the Anne Arundel Council of PTAs, said Dr. Carducci should be reassigned. She noted that the state investigation showed Northeast administrators only "partially complied" with child abuse regulations in April when they reported a student's allegation that she was having an affair with Mr. Price.

Mrs. Roeding also complained that "school officials do not appear to be able to distinguish the difference between sexual harassment and First Amendment rights to free speech," referring to a poem lampooning Mr. Price's affair with a 16-year-old that was written and distributed by students at Northeast. No students were disciplined as a result.

She accused Northeast administrators of being insensitive to parents' concerns by refusing to meet with them until directed to do so by Dr. Grasmick.

Mrs. Roeding, Sheryl Banks, a representative of the Black Political Forum, and Pat Behringer, a mother of two, also called for Mr. Carter's removal.

"These moves need to be made swiftly," Ms. Banks said.

Ms. Behringer said she is considering sending her children, a fourth-grader and a 3-year-old, to private school because the handling of the Price case "has destroyed my confidence in the school system."

The problems at Northeast gained national attention after Mr. Price admitted on "Geraldo!" and "A Current Affair" to having sex with eight students during at least 20 of his 25 years as a teacher.

Mr. Price since has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to two counts of child abuse and not guilty to a third.

Dr. Grasmick said last week that she was concerned by investigators' findings that Anne Arundel school officials had displayed a pattern of negligence in handling complaints against Mr. Price. Two alleged victims refused to repeat their stories to social workers or police after initially approaching Northeast administrators, in part because of an atmosphere at the school "that discouraged reporting" of child abuse, the report concluded.

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